What Is A Slot Receiver In Football?
A slot receiver is a type of football player typically who lines up in the “slot” between the split end and the flanker. They are often used as “possession” receivers, meaning their primary job is to catch short passes and keep the chains moving rather than stretching the field with long receptions.
Some of the most successful NFL receivers have been slot receivers, including Wes Welker, Chris Godwin, Tyler Boyd, Randall Cobb, Christian Kirk, Julian Edelman, Cole Beasley, and Cooper Kupp.
What Makes A Good Slot Receiver?
While most receivers need speed and quickness to be successful, slot receivers must also be shifty and possess the good route-running ability. They need to be able to create separation from defenders in order to give their quarterback a chance to complete a pass. They must also have strong hands and be able to make catches in traffic.
What Kinds Of Routes Do The Run?
Slant Route: This quick, short pass is typically thrown to the receiver when he is just a few yards away from the quarterback. The slant route is often used to pick up a few extra yards on a play or avoid the defense’s pressure.
Hitch Route: This short, quick pass is thrown to the receiver when he is a few yards away from the quarterback. The hitch route is often used to pick up a few extra yards on a play or avoid the defense’s pressure.
Curl Route: A medium-range pass typically thrown to the receiver when he is 10-15 yards away from the quarterback. The curl route is often used to pick up yardage on a play or to get open for a reception.
Out Route: A longer pass thrown to the receiver when he is 20 or more yards away from the quarterback. The out route is often used to pick up a big play gain or score a touchdown.
Increasing Importance In The NFL
The slot receiver position has become increasingly important in recent years as NFL offenses have shifted towards more spread-out formations.
With defenses spending less time in traditional “two-deep” safety looks, receivers have more opportunities to find space over the middle of the field. This is especially true on passing downs when defenses are more likely to bring extra defensive backs onto the field to cover all of the receivers.
How To Defend A Slot Receiver
Be Physical at The Line Of Scrimmage: A good slot receiver will try to release off the line quickly and get into their route. By being physical and jamming them at the line, you can disrupt their timing and slow them down.
Stay Balanced In Your Coverage: They often make sudden moves in their route to try and create separation. If you are balanced in your coverage, you will be able to stay with them and not get beaten for a big play.
Be Aware of The Quarterback’s Eyes: A good slot receiver will often be the quarterback’s first read on a play. If you can read the quarterback’s eyes, you can anticipate where the ball is going and make a play on it.
Stay Disciplined In Your Coverage: The slot man might try and bait you into biting on their fake routes. If you stay disciplined in your coverage, you will be able to stay with them and not get caught out of position.
Have a Short Memory: A slot player is usually extremely shifty and quick and can make plays against even the best defenders (Look at Cooper Kupp). If you give up a big play, don’t let it get to you mentally. Stay focused and keep playing your best football.
Why Are They Called A Slot Receiver?
The name comes from the fact that they line up in the “slot” between the offensive linemen and the outside receivers. This allows them to be in a position to catch passes that are thrown to them in space, as opposed to being covered by a defender.
They are often used as “safety valves” for quarterbacks, meaning that they are go-to targets when the quarterback is under pressure and needs to get rid of the ball quickly.
Are Slot Receivers Fast?
Generally speaking, yes. The quickness and agility that are necessary to excel in the slot are also indicative of speed. While some bigger, more physical players can thrive in the slot, most players at this position are on the smaller side and possess above-average speed.
Speed is so important for slot receivers that they often have to contend with larger, stronger defenders. Lining up in the slot puts these players in the middle of the field, where linebackers and safeties can easily cover them. As a result, they need to be able to create separation with their speed in order to get open and make plays.